Tuesday, February 25, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Cut in salary of private college staff 
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 24
The staff in private colleges aided by the Punjab Government faces a salary cut because of shrinking government share in giving grants. More than two dozen colleges in the state have already affected the cut in salaries sending signal of concern to others as well.

Reliable sources say that the cut in salaries has become a necessity for the college managements because of the shrinking government share in supporting the budget. The government is currently giving only 64 per cent grant.

The issue gains importance as in Punjab the private colleges cater to the education of approximately 2,20,000 students while the government institutions cater to about 50,000 students for higher education.

The Punjab Government released Rs 64.8 crore in 2002-2003 against the normal grant of Rs 97 crore earlier. Financial matters are so heavy on the college affairs that certain institutions will face a closure in the near future, sources say. The matter assumes significance because the scheme started by the SAD in 1977-1978 had decided on a 95 per cent grant scheme. The current government in its election manifesto also promised to adhere to the 95 per cent grant.

It is worthwhile to mention that Punjab Government for 140 aided colleges is paying Rs 64.8 crore while the Haryana Government for 118 colleges is paying Rs 82 crore.

A large number of college staff are witnessing their salaries in arrears from the past eight months and even more in certain cases. This was due to pending arrears of over Rs 100 crore which is due to all affiliated colleges, sources said.

It has been pointed out that the government had decided that a review of the posts would be done every five years when the scheme was started. Cut in grant was against the very spirit of the scheme. There has been no effective review since long.

The liability of the private managements had increased manifold. Most of the colleges facing closure are located in the semi-urban and rural areas of the state catering to weaker sections of society. Women colleges, in particular, need greater government attention, it is felt.

The issue of decreasing government support to private colleges figured at the Syndicate and the Senate meetings of Panjab University. A high-powered committee with Prof K.N. Pathak, the Vice-Chancellor, in the chair was expected to meet government officials on the issue. However, no progress has been reported on the front.

Another related issue is the pension scheme for these staff members. The government in July 2002, notified a pension scheme. Interestingly, no one has signed a letter of acceptance because of gaping loopholes in the actual benefits to the staff.


Cong infighting blocks ZP elections
Dept sets March 11 deadline to complete process
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 24
Infighting in the top echelons of the Congress at various places in Punjab has become a stumbling block in the election of office-bearers of the zila parishads.

According to informed sources, the election process had been completed only in eight districts so far. In the remaining districts, it has been held up because of lack of consensus among the Congress leaders, who matter in this connection. In each zila parishad, a chairperson and vice chairperson is to be elected.

The respective Deputy Commissioners had been authorised to conduct these elections by the second week of this month. Informed official sources said that now the Deputy Commissioners had been told to complete the poll process in the remaining districts by March 11. Otherwise, the Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj would take up the job of conducting elections.

Even the elections of office-bearers of zila parishad have not been held yet in Patiala, the home district of the Chief Minister. Among the other districts where elections are yet to be held are Sangrur, Gurdaspur, Kapurthala, Bathinda, Mansa, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur and Jalandhar.

Zila Parishads are expected to become important institutions for carrying out various development activities in the days to come. Vast powers from various government departments are to be transferred to the zila parishads to run government institutions such as schools, hospitals, etc and to carry out development works. As politicians of the ruling party have high stakes in these bodies, they are lobbying hard to get elected the chairpersons and vice-chairpersons.

Interestingly, the SAD has not big stake in these elections because it has only a few elected members in these bodies. So, the conflict is mainly among Congress leaders at almost all places.

In fact, even at the places where elections were held recently, it created a lot of bad blood among top leaders. Top Congress leaders exchanged blows and a case was also registered in Muktsar district. In Ferozepore district, two groups of Congressmen supported by party MLAs raised slogans against each other and exchanged brickbats. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had to intervene to get the elections conducted there. In Ferozepore district, one group was led by Mr Rana Gurmit Sodhi and the other by Dr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa.

In Kapurthala, the elections had to be postponed twice because of the ongoing tussle between two powerful factions of the Congress leaders. Former Akali ministers staged a dharna to protest against the postponement of the elections again and again.

In Sangrur district, certain Congress MLAs wanted to elect a Namdhari member as chairperson of the zila parishad as over 20 members are supporting him. However, other group is supporting certain other members. Because of this, the elections have been held up, it is learnt. Almost similar are the case in Gurdaspur, Jalandhar and Amritsar districts where dissensions among top Congress leaders have been causing problems in the completion of the election process.

The Tribune tried to contact Mr H.S. Hanspal, president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, to seek his version with regard to the differences among Congress leaders in various districts, but he was not available.

When contacted, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister, said that she had ordered to complete the election process by March 11 by all means. Otherwise, top officers of the department would be directed to do so, she added.


Golden Temple scuffle unfortunate: Badal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 24
Refusing to comment on the sack of Jathedar of Takht Kesgarh Sahib, Prof Manjit Singh, former Chief Minister and SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal today condemned the scuffle in the Golden Temple complex and said that it was “unfortunate and has hurt the sentiments of the people.”

Condemning the incident, he alleged that it was a premeditated act on part of the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat (SKP) activists, who clashed with the taskforce members of the SGPC. The latter were caught unawares since the SKP members were armed and attacked the members who were only performing their duty, he pointed out.

He was addressing gathering at the golden jubilee celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College and Polytechnic here today. Also present on the occasion were Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti and the SGPC chief Kirpal Singh Badungar.

Mr Badal also alleged that the Congress was patronising the SKP and the attack was an indicator of the evil designs of the ruling party to whip up religious sentiments of the masses. We will not let this happen and will expose them in the coming days, he stressed.

Commenting on the helmet issue, he said the party was in the process of appealing against the high court directive, which was against the Sikh tenets. The police should desist from challaning Sikh women since they were only following the tenets. The government should not enforce any directives which clash with the religious sentiments of the people, he added.

Taking a dig at the Congress on the completion of its first year in office, Mr Badal said the most prominent achievement was that it was a year of sex scandals. No development activity had taken place and the government is at sea about which policies were to be framed to redress the pressing problems facing the state.

On elections in Himachal Pradesh, he said he had returned from an extensive tour of the hilly state and claimed that the BJP would be re-elected with a comfortable margin. The campaigning style of the Congress had resulted in unnecessary ill-will and heartburn among people of both neighbouring states, which shared very friendly relations.

He, however, refused to comment on the sacking of Prof Manjit Singh as Jathedar of Takht Kesgarh Sahib and said it was an internal matter of the SGPC and only the committee chief was competent to comment on it.

Defending the sacking of the Jathedar, Mr Badungar said the “sad and painful” decision was taken after due deliberations and taking into consideration the findings of an inquiry committee, which had investigated allegations of corruption and moral turpitude against Prof Manjit Singh.

He, however, firmly refused to divulge the details of the report, terming it as damaging for the community and “maryada” of the Panth.

The SGPC chief denied reports in a section of media, which hinted at the pressure exerted by the SKP behind the sack. In fact, the Panchayat had very cordial relations with the former Jathedar, he pointed out.

Reacting to a query on allegations of corruption against Jathedar Vedanti, he said the matter was subjudice.

Commenting on the Sewa issue, he said it was unfortunate that the two women preferred to highlight the issue in the media instead of registering their compliant with the committee office. He said he had taken up the matter with the Akal takht Jathedar and a final decision in this context would be taken soon. If need be, the views of the Dharam Prachar Committee would be taken, he added.

Pointing out that prompt decisions had elicited violent responses in the past, he said it could be recalled that the Sikh community abroad was split down the middle on the langar issue. Similarly, when Prof Manjit Singh had issued a hukumnama on sewa in 1996, similar scenes were witnessed during the tenure of former SGPC chief G.S. Tohra.

“It is always advisable to create awareness among the masses instead of issuing edicts in the heat of the moment,” he stressed.

He also refuted the statement of the Punjab Police chief M.S. Bhullar that the police had no inkling about the dharna of the SKP. Media reports had been appearing for the past many weeks and if the cops wanted, the agitators could have been rounded up from outside the complex only. This was yet another attempt by the Congress to indirectly interfere in the religious affairs of the Sikhs, he added.


Manjit was ‘indicted by SGPC panel’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 24
The two-member inquiry committee constituted by the SGPC had indicted Prof Manjit Singh, a former Jathedar of Kesgarh Sahib for indulging in ‘anti-SGPC’ activities at the behest of certain influential NRI Sikhs.

The inquiry committee comprising Mr Kewal Singh Badal, and Mr Hardalbir Singh Shah, junior vice-president and general secretary of the SGPC, respectively, in their report had said Prof Manjit Singh had issued a directive to allow baptised Sikh women to perform ‘seva’ at behest of Mr Harbhajan Singh Yogi which created an “unsavoury situation”. Wife of Mr Yogi, Bibi Inderjit Kaur had led a jatha which performed “seva” at that time.

The committee had also mentioned that huge properties were amassed by Prof Manjit Singh by ‘abusing’ his power after his installation as Jathedar, Kesgarh Sahib. The property is disproportionate to his known sources of income. The inquiry committee had reported that Prof Manjit Singh spent most of his time in foreign countries for ‘vested interests’. The report alleged that Prof Manjit Singh had never deposited the money with the SGPC which he had collected during his foreign trips.

When contacted Mr Shah refused to divulge the details of the report. He, however, said the SGPC could consider ordering a high-level probe into the amassing of huge property disproportionate to his known sources of income if anybody wrote to the Shiromani Committee. He said there were many charges against Prof Manjit Singh which could not be divulged due to the high post he held in the past.


Removal illegal: SGPC ex-secy
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 24
Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, a senior leader of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal and former secretary of the SGPC, today described the removal of Prof Manjit Singh as Jathedar of Kesgarh Sahib as illegal and unconstitutional.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Calcutta alleged that the present set-up of the SGPC was “incompetent and not well-versed in bylaws of the Shiromani Committee. “Without going into the pros and cons of the allegations against Prof Manjit Singh, I must say that the unceremonious removal, of the Sikh high priests is unprecedented in the Sikh history”, he said.

He criticised the decision of the SGPC for requisitioning services of the Sikh Federation (Mehta) to stop activists of the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat from holding a dharna which resulted in a clash in the SGPC complex.


Summon those involved in clash, Takht urged
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 24
The All India Sikh Students Federation (Gill) led by Mr Harminder Singh Gill today urged Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti to summon the employees of the SGPC, the activists of the Sikh Students Federation (Mehta) and the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat who clashed in the SGPC complex two days ago, at Akal Takht.

In a press note, Mr Gill said that Akal Takht should also summon Mr Gurcharan Singh Grewal, president SSF who dyes his beard against the Sikh traditions.

He said had the SGPC executive committee taken timely action against Prof Manjit Singh, the incident within the SGPC complex would have been avoided.

He alleged that Khalsa Panchayat was the creation of Mr Grewal.


Draft VAT Act approved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 24
The Punjab Council of Ministers at a meeting held here today approved the draft VAT Act, 2003, to implement value-added tax in the state from April 1.

Taking cognizance of concern of trade and industry, the council decided to drop all sections in the draft VAT Act relating to prosecution of dealers for various offences.

It was also decided to raise the limit of turnover tax proposed to be levied on small dealers to Rs 25 lakh from the proposed Rs 15 lakh. The rate of turnover tax, to begin with, would be 1 per cent, says a press note. The proposed rate was 2 per cent.

Giving details of the proposed Act, the press note said that although the Department of Excise and Taxation had prepared the draft, as per national consensus it was felt that the existing sales tax law in Punjab did not have any prosecution provision. There was, thus, no need to have one in the new law.

However, the council otherwise observed that VAT would facilitate growth of trade and industry and was also expected to make tax processes more “transparent and tax administration hassle-free”.

The press note further pointed out that the draft VAT Act proposed that nearly 90 per cent of the tax-payers would have an opportunity of self-assessment. The Department of Excise and Taxation would resort to assessment of tax liability only in cases where it detected frauds, misrepresentation of facts or filling of false and wrong statutory declarations.

The draft legislation also proposes that all industrial rawmaterials would be taxed at 4 per cent, whereas non-merit goods — liquor and lottery — would be taxed at 20 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively.

These amendments were proposed by the Minister, Mr Sardul Singh.

The introduction of VAT would also set in motion the process of CST reforms. It was expected that rate of CST would go down to 2 per cent from April 1. The Government of India had agreed to compensate the states for the loss of revenue, as may occur, on account of VAT implementation and CST reforms.


Kang ordered to be freed on bail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 24
Acting on a petition filed by former chairman of the Punjab State Forest Development Corporation Manjinder Singh Kang, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed his release on bail “to the satisfaction of the trial court”.

He was earlier booked in a first information report registered on September 27 last year under Sections 409, 120, 467, 468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code, besides under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

According to the prosecution, Kang, during his tenure had “kept state interest at bay and had obtained a rent of Rs 25,000 for official accommodation while the Public Welfare Department had assessed the same to be Rs 9,000 per month. The house, it was added, belonged to Kang’s relative.

The prosecution had further claimed that the accused had also “shown his continuous residential stay in room number 14 at Chandigarh Circuit House at the rate of Rs 35 per day”. He had even “accumulated money through corruption and had made benami property....”.

Claiming to have been implicated, the petitioner had, on the other hand, submitted that he was “possessing the property and bank accounts worth crores before he became the Chairman”.

After going through the documents, the Judge ruled: “On a specific question, the Investigating Officer, present in the court, has stated that the interrogation of the petitioner is complete and he is in judicial lock-up”.

The Judge further ruled: “The petitioner is in jail since September 22 last year and as per the information supplied by the state counsel, the trial is fixed for March 7 for framing of charge”.

The Judge concluded: “Counsel for the petitioner contends that it will take a long time before the trial concludes. He further states that the investigation is complete and the entire evidence of the prosecution is based upon documents. The witnesses are official and there is no chance that the petitioner would tamper with the prosecution evidence. In view of this, without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, the petitioner is directed to be released on bail....”

Bail plea

Mr Justice Amar Dutt of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion for March 28 on a petition filed by former Senior Superintendent of Police Gurcharan Singh Pherurai seeking the grant of regular bail in a criminal case.

Claiming to have been implicated in a false case, counsel for the petitioner had added on his behalf that the alleged recovery had been planted on him in an attempt to frame him. It may be recalled that in an earlier petition, his counsel had submitted that the former SSP had been falsely implicated due to political reasons. 


Hearing in case against Modi adjourned

Jalandhar, February 24
A local court here today adjourned till February 27 hearing on a criminal complaint filed by two Punjab ministers against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his Minister of State for Home Amit Shah.

The case came up for hearing in the court of Judicial Magistrate H.S. Grewal. The magistrate recorded the statements of four witnesses.

While Mr Darshan Singh, an advocate, and Mr Kuljit Singh, a local municipal councillor, recorded their evidence on behalf of Minister of State for Cooperatives Amarjit Singh Samra, Mr Mohinder Singh Saroa, also an advocate, and Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, a local resident, gave their evidence in favour of Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister.

The judge after recording the evidences fixed February 27 as the date for consideration whether to summon the two accused. Meanwhile, in the two defamation civil suits, of Rs 50 crore each, filed by Mr Bajwa and Mr Samra, in the court of Additional Civil Judge (First Class) A.S. Grewal on February 22 were again adjourned today till February 28, as the court fee attached with the two separate suits could not be assessed by the court.

Mr Bajwa and Mr Samra had filed the criminal complaints under Sections 499, 500 and 501 and another defamation suit after they were named in a sex scandal busted by the Gujarat Police on February 17 at Ahmedabad. UNI


14 cops suspended for negligence of duty

Batala, February 24
Fourteen police personnel have been suspended in connection with the murder of one Hardev Singh of Khajala village in the court of the SDM here on February 21.

The Senior Superintendent of Police, Dr Naresh Arora, said here today on the basis of investigation report of the DSP (City), Mr Narinder Bedi, it was found that all 14 officials on duty, including ASI Iqwal Singh, were guilty of negligence of duty. Security had been provided to Mr Jagdev Singh, brother of the deceased, and his wife Rajwant Kaur, he added.

Security has also been provided at Khajala village under the Ghuman police station on the demand of the family of the deceased. The alleged accused had attacked Hardev Singh, his brother Jagdev Singh and Rajwant Kaur outside the SDM’s court which left Hardev Singh dead and the other two injured.

The alleged culprits were relatives of Rajwant Kaur, who objected to her marriage to Jagdev Singh. The husband and the wife along with the deceased had come to get their marriage registered in the SDM court. UNI


Irregular admission: MCA Dept head summoned
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 24
On directions from the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC), Additional District Magistrate Harbhupinder Singh Nanda has summoned Mr K.C. Kahlon, head of the department, of master of Computer Application (MCA), Guru Nanak Dev University in connection with “fake admission” in the department.

Mr Kahlon has been told to appear before the ADM on February 28. The PSHRC was approached by Charanjit Singh Bakshi following a report in The Tribune on June 30 last year on the issue.

The report quoted Mr Satya Pal Dang, a Communist leader, saying that the inquiry officer (DSP) was shielding Mr Kahlon, which led to delay in his arrest (Mr Kahlon) despite an FIR was registered against him months ago. Taking cognizance of the matter, the PSHRC directed the District Magistrate to hold an inquiry and submit its report to the commission. Mr Satya Pal Dang had accused the police of “hushing up” the case protecting Mr Kahlon.

The police had to arrest one accused, Parmanand, the then personal assistant to Dean (academic affairs) on June 9 following an inquiry by an SP after the issue of “fake admissions” was raised by Rakesh Kumar.

Subsequently Mr Parmanand, Mr Kahlon and others were booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

According to Mr Dang the said DSP had submitted that no evidence was found against the Head of the Department though documentary evidence was against him said Mr Dang that the accused (Kahlon) had not even applied for bail, “as if he was secure that he would not be touched”. After Parmanand’s arrest his son had claimed that his father was arrested to save others, including top functionaries of varsity in the admission scandal, Mr Dang had added.


Kidney scam: SIT questions DRME
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 24
In a significant development, the Special Investigation Team (SIT), headed by Mr S.K. Sharma, IG (Jalandhar range), today questioned Dr Ravinder Pal Singh, acting Director Research and Medical Education (DRME), and Principal, Government Medical College, Patiala, to submit records pertaining to infamous multi-crore kidney scam.

It may be mentioned here that the DRME was accused of granting permission to Ram Saran Dass Kakkar Hospital to perform transplantation of kidneys though the police had informed him that 14 persons had been arrested on charges of ‘illegal organ trade’. So much so Mr Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, SP, who had arrested 14 donors and middle-men in connection with the trade on September 21, 2002, had informed the DRME about the scam yet he had given authorisation to Kakkar hospital.

Talking to TNS, Mr Sharma said the DRME was directly responsible for giving authorisations to certain hospitals for performing kidney transplantations. He said the DRME was also responsible for constitution of authorisation committee which sanctions cases of unrelated persons for transplantation of kidneys. Mr Sharma said as per the Human Organ Act, 1994, the DRME was vested with certain powers to contain ‘illegal practices’ which he (DRME) had failed.

The SIT chief said Dr Ravinder Pal Singh was asked to submit the record pertaining to the cases cleared by the authorisation committees. 


Suspension of IAS officer revoked
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 24
The Punjab Government today revoked with immediate effect the suspension of Mr D.K. Tiwari, IAS, and warned him to be careful in the discharge of his duty in future.

Mr Tewari, who was Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, was placed under suspension on the charges of disobedience and dereliction of duty on February 6.

His explanation was sought on February 11 as to why he had left the headquarters and proceeded on leave on February 5 despite the orders of the Chief Minister to conduct the elections of the Zila Parishad, Ferozepore on February 6 under his supervision.

The reply received from him was examined and found that it was incumbent on his part to have informed the Chief Minister that he was proceeding on leave as his leave had been sanctioned earlier. Though, there was misunderstanding on his part and he had no malafide intention and the fact that he had regretted his behaviour, Mr Tiwari is warned to be more careful in the discharge of his official duty in future, said a government release signed by the Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra.


BSP cadre camp in March
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 24
The Bahujan Samaj Party plans to organise a cadre camp in Jalandhar in March, which will be addressed by Miss Mayawati, Chief Minister of UP.

This information was given by Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri, President, Punjab BSP, while addressing a press conference here yesterday. He was here in connection with a conference in Daon village to pay homage to five workers of the BSP killed by terrorists during the 1992 Punjab Vidhan Sabha election.

He said 25 workers from each Vidhan Sabha constituency of Punjab would attend the cadre camp.

Mr Mann Singh Manheda, Secretary, BSP, said on the one hand the Punjab Government did not have funds to pay a monthly assistant of Rs 2500 per month to the terrorists-affected families and on the other the Chief Minister was wasting crores on his helicopter.


BSM conferences
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 24
Mr Satnam Singh Kainth, a former MP and President of the Bahujan Samaj Morcha (BSM), today alleged that the VHP was misquoting ideology of Dr B.R. Ambedkar. Mr Kainth said this while talking to mediapersons at the local PWD Rest House.

To promote the ideology of Dr Ambedkar, the morcha will organise workers’ conferences at Faridkot on March 22; Ludhiana on March 29; Fatehgarh Sahib on March 30; Amritsar on April 5; and Phagwara on April 6. 


‘Police threw acid on Akali workers’
Our Correspondent

Batala, February 24
At a press conference here today former Akali ministers Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan and president-SAD-MLA of Sri Hargobindpur Capt Balbir Singh Baath alleged that the Punjab Government was registering false cases against the SAD and BJP workers in Punjab.

They said when Congress workers burnt an effigy of Gujarat Chief-Minister Mr Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, the administration did not take any action but when workers of the SAD-BJP combine burnt effigies of Capt Amarinder Singh and two Punjab ministers alleged to be involved in a scandal the Punjab police lathi-charged them and threw acid on them. False cases were also registered against them, this happened in Dera Baba Nanak a few days back. They added that Ranjit Singh Rana, Swaran Singh, Balwinder Singh and Malkiat Singh were injured in the acid throwing and the Dera Baba Nanak police did not register any case and no medical facilities were provided to the injured.

They said they would move court because the police had booked them under Section 188, 353, 148 and 149 of the IPC against 36 persons of Dera Baba Nanak.


Govt to take up issue with BBMB
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, February 24
The Punjab Government has decided to take up the issue of its declining employees’ quota in the BBMB with the board management. Sources said the government was now mulling over the idea of shifting employees from the surplus pool to the BBMB against the states quota in the board.

The government has around 55 per cent share in the BBMB. Its employees’ quota is according to its share in the organisation.

However, due to the apathy of the successive governments and members representing the state in the BBMB, the Punjab quota has reduced to just 20 per cent. In place of the Punjab quota, the BBMB has raised its own cadre of employees.

The sources said the Secretary, Irrigation, had called a meeting of BBMB officers to discuss the issue.

The Chairman of the BBMB, Mr Rakesh Nath, admitted yesterday at Nangal that the Secretary, Irrigation, had sought a meeting with the BBMB management. When asked how many employees of the Punjab quota could be adjusted in the BBMB, Mr Nath said the exercise in this regard was being conducted to determine the exact number. The Chairman was at Nangal to inaugurate the Red Cross fair organised by the BBMB.

The sources said by shifting the employees from the surplus pool to the BBMB, the Punjab Government could save crores. The government contributes to the budget of the BBMB as per its share. The states employees working in the BBMB get the salary from the board. So, by shifting the employees from the surplus pool to the BBMB, the government could save the salary being paid to the employees.

The president of the joint action committee of state employees in the BBMB, Mr Ashok Rana, said the association had also written to the Chief Minister to shift the Punjab employees to the BBMB.

He also flayed the abolition of 500 posts by the BBMB on the plea that it would reduce the promotional chances of the state employees.


HC issues notice to Punjab
Registration of bogus votes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 24
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, comprising of Mr Justice N.K. Sodhi and Mr Justice N.K. Sud, today issued notice of motion for March 10 to the state of Punjab through the Chief Secretary, the Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore and SDO (Civil), Jalalabad.

The Court has directed that it should be intimated at the next hearing as to what action has been initiated against the erring officials who were found guilty of registering bogus voters. As a consequence of that the State Election Commission had cancelled the voter’s list and had directed the state to chargesheet all erring officials who undertook the process of revision of electoral rolls and to transfer the Sub-Divisional Officer, Civil, Mr Sukhmandar Singh.

This order was passed in a writ petition filed by Mr Prem Kumar Valecha and others. Mr Valecha is President of the Municipal Council, Jalalabad.

It may be recalled that during the process of revision of electoral rolls in Jalalabad, initiated in November, 2002, as many as 67 officials were on duty. They had allegedly registered 3,762 bogus voters. Mr Valecha and others protested and filed petitions. The Election Commission ordered two separate enquiries, which proved that voters registered were “fictitious and bogus.”

Thereupon, the Commission ordered on December 17, 2002, that all officials/officers, who had prepared/verified the voters be issued chargesheets. Despite this, the petitioners have maintained that no action was initiated against any of the erring officials/officers. Also, the petitioners were being threatened that their nomination papers would be rejected on one or the other pretext. The petitioners, therefore, prayed to the High Court seeking “quashing the action of the respondents-state in not complying with the directives issued by the Commission and in not initiating any action against the respondents, 68, who have been found guilty for registration of bogus voters to the tune of 3762; and also directing the respondents-state to immediately initiate disciplinary/penal action against the 68, strictly in compliance of the directives of the Election Commission, contained in its memo of December 17, 2002”.

Incidentally, The Tribune was the first to break the news in November, 2002, that there were “no under 18 years in Jalalabad”, going by the voter’s list. As per Census-2001, Jalalabad has a population of 32,500. The number of voters at present was 29,081. The detection of registration of bogus voters in all 15 wards had created tension in the town because of alleged interference by the local Congress MLA, at whose behest village panchayat voters’ names were lifted en block for municipal council voter’s list.


Former SHO refused bail in extortion case
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 24
Mr Jagroop Singh, Sessions Judge, here today rejected anticipatory bail applications of Darbara Singh, then SHO of the local sadar police station, and Satnam Singh of Dhapali village in Bathinda district booked for extortion and intimidation.

The police, on complaint of Mr Varinder Kumar, a local resident, registered a case on February 14 under Sections 384, 505 and 120-B of the IPC and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act against Darbara Singh, then SHO; Anup Singh, ASI; Kewal Singh, Head Constable; Satnam Singh, Darshan Kumar, driver; and Ms Happy. The judge dismissed the anticipatory bail application of both accused after hearing arguments of defence counsel and the additional public prosecutor. The additional public prosecutor pleaded that the accused were yet to be arrested and investigation was to be carried out, and sought rejection of bail applications.

Mr Varinder Kumar alleged that on February 3 last, the accused had “blackmail” him under the threat that the he would be booked for having illicit relations with Ms Happy if he did not pay Rs 2 lakh. He said he paid Rs 20,000 to the policemen to save himself. He also alleged that later he came to know that Ms Happy, the policemen and other involved persons had planned to extort money from him.


Licences introduced for rickshaw owners
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 24
The Municipal Corporation here today started licence system for cycle-rickshaw owners by doing away with the contractorship.

The order to obtain licences comes at a time when the corporation is facing the worst-ever fund crisis. An amount of Rs 50 lakh would be gained by the corporation after the order comes into force, said Mr Kirpal Singh, Additional Commissioner of the corporation.

Surprisingly the Punjab Cycle-rickshaw Act, under which the said order is to be implemented from February 25, was enacted in 1996. No specific purpose, other than enhancing the income of the corporation, is the reason behind the new order that comes into implementation nearly eight years later, claimed the Additional Commissioner.

Interestingly, this order would not only cut out the contract system operating in the city wherein a person possesses a number of rickshaws and gives them on lease or contract to make a tidy sum after the end of the day, it would also make it mandatory for “only” the owner to drive his cycle-rickshaw.

Meanwhile, it is being pointed out that the nationwide hunt for illegal Pakistanis and Bangladeshis would be the objective behind the order.

Sources reveal that the government drive to locate Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, who are staying illegally in India, is one of the major reasons behind the order. This would ascertain the antecedents of migrant labour and rickshaw-pullers.

More than 20,000 Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are reported to be staying illegally in India and many in the border areas for easier trespass.

The rickshaw-owner would have to submit a medical certificate of fitness from the corporation’s health department or from any government hospital. “This would ensure that the person is not handicapped and is medically fit to drive his rickshaw himself”, added the Additional Commissioner.

The licence fee for each rickshaw would be Rs 40 annually besides Rs 5 each for medical certificate and licence plate. The owner would also have to submit his identification certificate duly attested either by area councillor, local MLA or a gazetted officer.


Lok adalat settles 159 co-op loan cases

Moga, February 24
As many as 159 cases of cooperative crop loans were decided at two lok adalats held here today, according to Additional Sessions Judge Jagmohan Singh Chawla.

In the two Lok Adalats of Chief Judicial Magistrate Jai Karan Matoo and K.K. Bansal, Civil Judge, 107 cases and 52 cases respectively, were settled claiming cooperative crop loans worth Rs 34.64 lakh and both adalats awarded claims worth Rs 26.05 lakh and gave relief to the farmers to the extent of Rs 8.59 lakh.

According to the ADJ the cases settled were more than seven/eight years old. It is for the first time that the cooperative lok adalat was held in the sessions division consisting of Moga, Faridkot and Muktsar districts.

Meanwhile, the first state-level Lok Adalat to settle disputes between the farmers and commission agents (arhtiyas) will be held at Muktsar on March 22.

Deputy Commissioner Usha R. Sharma also stated the district administration would start procurement of wheat from April 1.

She had a meeting with the District Food and Supplies Controller and district managers and other officials of all procurement agencies. She directed the market committees to make all necessary arrangements for the convenience of the farmers in the grain markets of their jurisdictions. UNI


House owners want Rent Act amended
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 24
The Punjab House Owners Association has urged the government to amend the East Punjab Rent Restriction Act, 1949 in the Budget session of the state Assembly on the pattern of the Chandigarh administration had done.

Association President Shivdev Singh said the Act was enacted after the partition and influx of refugees into India from Pakistan to check increase of rent of certain premises in urban areas and protect the tenants against eviction.

He said off late the Act was being misused and landlords were subjected to hardships physical, mental and economic. He said Non-Resident Indians were also victims of this Act as their homes and other properties in urban areas were being illegally, occupied.

Mr Shivdev Singh said now as there was no problem of rehabilitation of refugees, the Punjab government should also issue notification as done by the Chandigarh Administration on November 16 last or bring a fresh bill in the budget session of the Assembly. He said the Supreme Court in a case Rakesh Wadhwan and others versus Jagdamba Industrial Corporation and others had suggested to the Punjab government to revamp this legislation.

The House-owners Association’s President also stated that on a demand of the Association, the Beant Singh government enacted a Model Rent Act in 1995 which was also accorded assent by the President but after the assassination of Beant Singh a notification in this regard was not issued. He said it was high time that the Congress government headed by Capt Amarinder Singh issued a notification to enforce the Act or make a similar Act.


5 killed in road accident
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, February 24
Five members of a marriage party were killed and six seriously injured in a road mishap near Thathian Mohanta village last evening. The accident occurred when their Tata Sumo hit the side of a bridge and roadside tree. Two of the 12 persons in the vehicle died on the spot.


3 children hurt in roof collapse
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 24
Roof of a cowshed in the Patti Balol of the Sultanwind area collapsed late last evening injuring three minor children, one of them seriously. At least eight buffaloes were also buried alive in the incident. The injured were admitted in Guru Nanak Dev Hospital, where their condition is stated to be critical. The injured are identified as Mannu (11), Meetu (8) and Lovely (3). Carcasses of the cattle were still under rubble. Work was on to remove bodies of animals from the debris.

The villagers held the Municipal Corporation responsible for the incident. They said the area was under the corporation but there was no drainage. They said that even the farmers of the area were forced to do labour as fodder and crops were damaged by the stagnant water. They said water was still in fields.

They said that earlier waste water was carried away along with the Upper Bari Doab Canal near the area. They said due to Swarn Vihar scheme of PUDA, which was cancelled later on the drain got blocked. Now due to this sewage started collecting in fields.


Petrol station owner booked
Tribune News Service

Malout, February 24
Mr Munish Kumar Gagneja, owner of a petrol station, Friends Oil Company, has been booked under Section 3/7 of the Essential Commodities Act and Clauses 4, 5, 6 and 7 of MS and HSD order 1998 for selling diesel in violation of company rules and regulations.

Police sources said Mr Gagneja was allotted consumer petrol pump on the Malout-Bathinda road, and was supposed to use the diesel stored at the station for company’s vehicles. However, a complaint was made that Mr Gagneja had been selling the diesel to customers without having licence for it.

A team of IOCL officials visited the station for verification. Thereafter the case was handed over to the district administration for action. The matter then was sent to District Food and Supplies Controller (DFSC) for necessary action.


Dog show results
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 24
The German Shepherd Dog speciality and the All-Breed Championship shows, which were held at the Polo Ground here yesterday, attracted as many as 367 dogs of 37 breeds.

The judges who participated in the show included Mr David Payne of the UK, Mr Tan Hock of Malaysia and Mr Roberto Tesoro from the Philippines. Exhibitors from Kolkata, Bangalore, Kerala, Baroda, Jaipur and Pune took part in the one-day event.

Results: Challenge certificate awards: Mr Abdullah Noori of New Delhi (breed-German Shepherd) 1, Mr Vijay Singh of Patiala (German Shepherd) 2.

Reserve Challenge certificate: Mr Mehboob Khan of Karnal (German Shepherd) 1, Mr Iqbal Singh Dhillon of Jalandhar (German Shepherd) 2. Best in show: Mr Abdullah Noori (New Delhi), Mr I.S. Dhillon (Jalandhar) 2, Mr Rajesh Nehra Katyal (Noida) 3, and Mr Gautam Podder (Gorakhpur) 4.

The dog of Mr Puneet Kapoor of New Delhi bagged the Best Puppy award and that of Mr I.S. Dhillon of Jalandhar won the Best in Show award for Bred-in-India category.


Panel to fight for scribes’ rights
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 24
The newly formed Jalandhar Working Journalists Association (JWJA) today resolved to fight for the protection of journalists’ right to freedom of expression and for safeguarding the interests of working journalists. At a meeting, the association also decided to create an exigency fund to help families of journalists in the case of death or permanent injury to them.

Meanwhile, following office-bearers of the association were elected in today’s meeting: patron: Varinder Singh (The Tribune), president: Harkirat Singh (UNI), advisor: K.S. Dhaliwal (Times of India), senior vice-president: Mr Rajiv Bhaskar, vice-presidents: Mr Benod Bandhu (Amar Ujala), Mr Rishi Nagar (Dainik Jagran), genreal secretary: Manpreet Randhawa (Hindustan Time), organising secretary: J.S. Malhotra (The Tribune), joint secretaries: Shiv Sharma (Daily Ajit), Ashwani Khurana (Punjab Kesri) and Rakesh Behl (Dainik Bhaskar), treasurer: Praveen Sharma.


Vaccination drive

Bathinda, February 24
A local NGO, Ahsaas, has launched a campaign for vaccination of stray cattle against foot-and-mouth disease. The campaign was launched in the city today. OC


Budget session from March 14
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 24
The Council of Ministers today approved summoning of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Budget session-2003 from March 14. It will last till March 31, according to a press note issued today.


PUDA removes encroachments
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 24
The PUDA authorities today took possession of a piece of land encroached upon by some residents near Phase No. II of Model Town. Some days ago it had demolished boundary walls of houses erected upon land.

Senior officials of the PUDA supervised the drive. A ‘veranda’ that was constructed on the land and which formed a part of the house of a retired Army official was also demolished.

A minor heated argument was exchanged between the owner of a house and PUDA officials when workers started demarking its land. The owner of the house,Mr Randhawa, a relative of a former Punjab minister, Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, said he had not encroached upon the PUDA land. He said in 1996 the then PUDA Estate Officer had got the demarcation of the land done and he had constructed his house in accordance.

However, the PUDA authorities said Mr Randhawa had encroached upon the PUDA land. They said they had done demarcation as per Revenue Department and PUDA records.


SDO suspended
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, February 24
Mr Kewal Krishan, Sub-Divisional Officer, Madhopur headworks had been placed under suspension for encroaching land of the Canal Department.

According to official sources, the Executive Engineer had written to the district administration that the land encroached had been used to build a hotel. The Divisional Forest Officer was deputed to hold an inquiry into the matter.

The officer, in his findings, confirmed the encroachment. It was found that the Canal Department had issued a receipt against the lease money of the land encroached. A case in this regard was pending in court.

Taking prompt action on the inquiry report, the Secretary of the department placed the Sub-Divisional Officer under suspension.


Kidnapping suspect held
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 24
Dhanjay Kumar, an engineer working with a multi-national company here, who was allegedly involved in the abduction of a Jaipur jeweller’s wife about three weeks ago, was today arrested by the city police.

Sumedha, wife of jeweller Rashmikant Durlabhji, was abducted from near her residence on February 6 in Jaipur. The abductors had reportedly demanded Rs 2 crore as ransom.

The sources said Sumedha was rescued by a police party yesterday from Faridabad. Several members of the gang were arrested. The sources said Dhanjay Kumar had taken a room on rent at Faridabad, where Sumedha was kept for several days.

Dhanjay was an accomplice of Ajay Kumar Singh, who headed the gang of kidnappers.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, confirmed the arrest of Dhanjay Kumar.


2 sportswomen die in mishap
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 24
Two sportswomen, Sukhi and Sangeeta, were killed and six others received injuries when a van and a truck collided near village Bahua, 6 km from here, on the Phagwara-Banga road last night. Sukhi belonged to Ratainda village and Sangeeta to Jhander Kalan village in the Banga area.

Both were in their twenties. Among the injured are sportswomen Gurmit Kaur, Ranu, Laddi, Rachana, Rajwinder Kaur and van driver Harpreet Singh. Both vehicles tumbled into a deep road-side ditch after collision. The Behram police has registered a case. Truck driver fled after the accident. The truck was carrying cement.


NRI shot dead at wedding
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 24
An NRI, Mohan Singh, was killed when a member of a marriage party fired and the bullet hit the NRI, here last evening. The police has registered a case against four, including Manjit Singh, who allegedly fired from his .12 bore gun.

According to information, the marriage party came from Reru village, near Jalandhar, for the marriage of Mr Jaswinder Singh. The girl belonged to Maheru village in the Phagwara block. The wedding guest had two .12 bore guns and kept firing in the air periodically in marriage palace. Satinderpal, Romi, Baljinder and Manjit Singh were in the forefront of the gun-revellers. When the ‘doli’ was about to leave, Manjit Singh allegedly fired and the bullet hit the UK- based Mohan Singh, who died on way to hospital.


Uncle rapes minor
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 24
A minor girl was allegedly raped by her uncle Dilbagh Singh of the Maqboolpura locality here late last evening. The accused has land dispute with father of the girl.

According to information the accused entered the house of his brother injured him with a sharp-edged weapon late last evening and fled the spot when people started approaching. The brother was taken to a nearby hospital by his family. When they returned home, they found his 15-years-old daughter missing.

The family searched her and hearing her cries found that accused Dilbagh Singh had raped her. On seeing the family members he fled the scene. A case has been registered at Rambagh police station under Sections 363, 366, 376 and 323 of the IPC.


Five cricket bookies held

Bathinda, February 24
The police has achieved success in its campaign against ‘satta’ (betting) on one-day cricket matches of the ongoing World Cup when it arrested five persons of an inter-state gang of bookies, the police said today.

The accused Kamal Kumar, Tribhuwan Kumar, Shashi Kumar, Jatinder Kumar and Kushham Dass — were arrested while they were placing bets on the matches. PTI


One injured as financier fires at scribe
Our Correspondent

Ropar, February 24
Rakesh Kumar, a resident of Anandpur Sahib, was injured when a stray bullet allegedly fired by Preet Rupinder Singh, a financier of the town, hit him this evening.

The DSP, Anandpur Sahib, Mr Varinder Brar, while giving this information said initially Preet Rupinder Singh threatened. Prabjot Singh, a scribe of Anandpur Sahib, on the phone due to some personal rivalry. Later he came to his shop in the main market and fired at him from his .32 bore revolver. The bullet, however, hit Rakesh Kumar, who was standing in the market. The injured has been admitted to the Anandpur Sahib Civil Hospital.


IET fete a big draw
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 24
The Institute of Engineering and Technology, Bhaddal (Ropar), celebrated its fourth annual fete E-Blaze 2003 with enthusiasm. It showcased a host of rain-teasing events like mathomania, technical quiz, technophobia and ad-mad show.

Events like painting, sketching, cartooning, dumb charades, jest a minute and rangoli were also organised which students themselves managed. The request stall and the dance floor were a big hit with the student community while game events like lucky seven, tambola and blind walk attracted big crowds.

Mr Gurcharan Singh, Chairman, and Dr R.S. Seehra, Director, Kandi Friends Educational Trust, appreciated the efforts of the students and said talent and creativity were the essential requirements for any professional engineer. Prof I.K. Kataria, Principal, also spoke.


IFTU flays govt’s privatisation move
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 24
The Indian Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) said today that the privatisation of public sector undertakings and other departments by the Punjab Government would render thousands of workers unemployed. Mr Gurmeet Singh, an office-bearer of the IFTU, said under the name of reviving the economy and bringing fiscal reforms, the government was privatising different departments. He said such moves would be against the interests of the state.

He said the government was paving the way for the privatisation of Punjab Roadways and the PRTC by not making new recruitments, while it had almost accepted the Haldia Committee’s report for making a corporation in place of the PSEB. He alleged that the government was even shying away from providing proper health and education facilities to the people as it was planning to give schools on contract and had formed corporation for running Civil Hospitals.

He said employees of various departments were being asked to adopt Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS). Mr Gurmeet Singh said the IFTU would hold a rally in Chandigarh on February 26 to express resentment against the privatisation move.

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